While many thrillers and mysteries can fall into typical genre tropes, the pages seem to fly by effortlessly when you find a really good one. The answers need to be discovered — the chapter-ending cliffhangers are oh so unsatisfying! And the next thing you know, it’s 2 a.m., and you’re drenched in sweat from all the action. No? Just me? Well, nonetheless, here are four new hair-raising reads that may just threaten your sleep schedule. 

“Dirt Creek: A Novel”

by Hayley Scrivenor (Flatiron Books, $27.99, out Aug. 2)

Thrilling and atmospheric: Hayley Scrivenor’s debut novel is a vivid, slow burn that unravels the baffling disappearance of 12-year-old Esther. While headed home from school in her rural Australian town, Esther vanishes, setting off a domino effect that exposes the many hidden secrets and lies in her seemingly idyllic community. While the novel takes a bit to pick up speed, those who stick around will be rewarded with a clever, layered tale that goes much deeper than first meets the eye. As Beejay Silcox recently wrote in The New York Times, “‘Dirt Creek’ is less a tale of murder most horrid than a study in quiet, everyday violence: vicarious trauma, coercive control, victim-blaming, internalized shame. It’s a novel of sharp-edged tempers, accidents waiting to happen and dark inheritances.”


“You’re Invited: A Novel”

by Amanda Jayatissa (Berkley, $27, out Aug. 9)

Dark and suspenseful: One would think their childhood best friend’s wedding would be a time of joy and celebration. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in Amanda Jayatissa’s forthcoming sophomore novel “You’re Invited.” The story’s protagonist, Amaya, hasn’t spoken to the bride, her ex-best friend Kaavi, in five years. And unlike the title suggests, Amaya wasn’t really invited to Kaavi’s wedding. But Amaya travels from California to her birthplace of Sri Lanka to stop the nuptials — Kaavi is set to marry Spencer, Amaya’s ex. And like the childhood playground brag, Amaya knows something Kaavi doesn’t know. Jayatissa spins a grim crime read where the little twists are just as much of a surprise as the big ones. It’s been compared to “Crazy Rich Asians,” most likely for the portrayal of a lavish Sri Lankan lifestyle, but “You’re Invited” is in a league of its own. The writing is captivating, the pacing perfect, and Jayatissa never fails to give you just enough to draw your own conclusions, that will most likely be wrong. 

Illustration by Jenny Kwon


“The Last Housewife: A Novel”

by Ashley Winstead (Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99, out Aug. 16)

Twisted and heavy: This forthcoming release from the author of “In My Dreams I Hold a Knife” comes with many, many trigger warnings — there are descriptions of rape, self-harm, misogyny and suicide. For those who will still pick the novel up, strap in for a terrifying tale of revenge. The main character, Shay Evan, has returned to her New York university after years of attempting to escape the trauma she endured; she and her two best friends were held captive and abused by a powerful, manipulative man. Shay has returned to the scene of this horrifying experience after learning on a true-crime podcast that Laurel, her friend who she escaped with all those years ago, has died by suicide. But that story isn’t adding up to Shay. And she’s determined to find out what truly happened. Not-so-spoiler alert: These ongoings have to do with an NXIVM-type cult. 

“Mary: An Awakening of Terror”

by Nat Cassidy (Tor Nightfire, $21.99)

Straight-up gory: Heads up, Nat Cassidy’s debut novel is not for the faint of heart. It’s gory and horrific, but underneath the blood-soaked pages is a commentary on society’s view of older women and their place in the world. “Mary” follows, you guessed it, a woman named Mary who’s on the cusp of turning 50. If Mary could forever blend into the background, she would. And honestly, it’s easy for her to move through life semi-invisible. Mary is a middle-aged woman, after all — barely noticed and unremarkable. But then, seemingly at all once, she’s fired from her job and relocates to her hometown in Arizona to take care of her elderly aunt Nadine, who raised Mary after her parents’ death. Oh, and whenever Mary looks at a woman who’s around the same age as her, she starts to see their face melt off, passing out if she gazes too long. Paired with hot flashes, doctors have told her it’s just menopause. Mary thinks moving back in with her aunt will help her reground herself and fix whatever is going on with her. Instead, her visions are now showing up in places around town as ghosts. And for some reason, it all feels too familiar, like a sense of déjà vu that she can never seem to grasp onto … A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote, “Cassidy expertly twists the invisibility and disposability of society’s most vulnerable into qualities ideally suited to a terrifying avenging angel. It’s as scary as it is smart.”